Most of us will have seen the latest ‘challenge’ doing the rounds on Facebook this week, it’s the Motherhood Challenge. It involves mums, who are nominated by their Facebook friends, posting five photos that make them proud to be a mother, before they then go on to nominate other fellow mums and challenge them to do the same.
There’s often a challenge of some sort going around on Facebook – the ice bucket challenge and the no make-up selfie challenge are two of the more popular ones from the last couple of years – but neither of those seem to have attracted the debate (I’m not sure if ‘backlash’ would be too strong a word for this, but maybe not, depending on how strong some people’s views are on the matter) that the motherhood challenge has drummed up.
So, why do people have so much to say about this photo challenge that is surely just a bit of fun? Well, it basically boils down to the fact that this challenge alienates some women, the women who are not mothers. We can all take our make up off and take a selfie, but we can’t all show off pictures of our kids, can we?
Motherhood isn’t something you should feel you have to hide
Motherhood can be a pretty touchy subject – either for women who do not have, and simply do not want, children, or for the women who desperately want, but cannot have, children. Some of the first camp – the ‘I do not want children, thanks’ crowd – can be pretty vocal about how motherhood is not for them and if they have to see one more pic of a giggling baby on Facebook, they will just vomit. I’m not sure I agree with this point of view. I have lots of friends who have children and who regularly post pics on Facebook of said children in cute/hilarious/messy situations. I don’t mind – and often like – seeing these photos as it is a massive part of their life they are sharing. Motherhood isn’t something you should hide, after all. And if I’m not in the mood for more baby pics on any particular day when I’m flicking through my news feed, I just scroll on by. (Plus, it all evens out in the end – I’m not sure my mummy friends want to see all the pics I post of my cat Theo, but I’m a kitten momma and proud ;-) ).
Others who could perhaps be negatively affected by the motherhood challenge are the women who are not mothers but who desperately want to be. And the thought of these women feeling alienated over the latest challenge is the thing that truly upsets me. I have never tried for children but I definitely want children, and although I don’t know what it must feel like to want children but know that you cannot have them, I do know what it feels like to desperately want children but thanks to your lifestyle, you feel like you are up against a complete brick wall and cannot see children as a part of your future (and I am not saying these two things are anywhere near the same, I’m just drawing on past experience). If this challenge was doing the rounds when I was in the midst of my previous situation then I would have felt truly heartbroken. But by the same token, people can’t be expected to conceal parts of their lives at all times for fear of hurting others. I don’t think it’s fair for the extremists cited in recent media articles to label the mothers taking part in this challenge as smug for doing so, they should take part if they want to and they should not have to conceal any part of their lives if they don’t wish to.
Of course, it sounds like there are one or two mums out there who are taking it too far and turning this fun challenge into a competition, and that I don’t agree with. In an article on the BBC website, it quotes a Mumsnet user, who is opposed to the challenge and who states: “I would post: I’m far too busy bonding with my DC [dear children] over homemade crafts, trips to the beach and cuddles to do this. If you have time, you are clearly neglecting yours”.
My thoughts on that comment? Get off your high horse, please. From my point of view, motherhood is not a competition, no one is any better than anyone else, and those few women who treat it as a competitive sport actually make me feel ever so slightly jaded about the possibility of one day becoming a mother.
So, would I take part in the Facebook motherhood challenge if I was a mother? Well, yes, I think I probably would, knowing my track record of taking part in daft Facebook challenges. But I wouldn’t do it to rub it in or be smug, because anyone who truly knows me, knows I’m not that kind of person. I’d feel proud to have become a mother, something I’ve wanted to become for a long time, and as long as you’re not out there to brag, boast and say “I’m better than you”, then there is nothing wrong at all in celebrating any aspect of your life that you are proud of.